Romeo and Juliet Act V, Scene 3: Summary and Analysis
by William Shakespeare

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Act V, Scene 3: Summary and Analysis

Act V, Scene 3

The final scene takes place in the churchyard later that night. Paris and his servant enter. Paris commands his servant to keep watch while he scatters flowers on Juliet’s tomb, ordering the servant to whistle if he sees anyone approaching. When his servant whistles, Paris wonders who could be wandering around at night and decides to hide and watch. Romeo and Balthasar appear. Romeo gives Balthasar a letter, ordering him to deliver it to Lord Montague the next morning. Taking a crowbar and a pickax from Balthasar, Romeo says that he intends to enter the tomb to behold Juliet’s face one last time and to retrieve her ring. Romeo orders Balthasar to leave and threatens to kill him should Balthasar follow or interrupt him. Balthasar agrees but then, suspicious of Romeo’s intentions, quietly vows that he will hide nearby.

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Romeo begins to use his tools to crack open the tomb. Paris watches Romeo work and recognizes him as Tybalt’s murderer. Believing that Romeo must have some ill intention in disturbing the Capulet graves, Paris emerges and orders him to stop. Paris questions how one could be so evil as to take revenge on the dead (“Can vengeance be pursued further than death?”) and declares that Romeo must die. Romeo agrees that he must die and warns Paris not to interfere with a desperate man, as he does not want to commit another sin. Paris refuses to leave and they begin to fight. Paris’s servant sees the fight and runs to call the watch—just before Paris is killed by Romeo. As he dies, Paris asks Romeo to be merciful and lay his body next to Juliet’s in the tomb. Agreeing, Romeo drags Paris’s body into the tomb where Juliet’s body lays. Seeing his wife’s body, Romeo remarks that she is beautiful even in death. Declaring his intention to spend an eternity with his beloved, Romeo kisses Juliet and then takes the poison, kissing her one last time before he dies.

Above, Friar Laurence appears, carrying several tools. A worried Balthasar approaches and tells Friar Laurence that Romeo has been in the tomb for half an hour. Alone, Friar Laurence ventures into the tomb, fearful of what he might find. Balthasar says that he had an odd dream that Romeo fought and killed another young man. Seeing the blood stains on the entrance to the tomb, the Friar calls out to Romeo. Peering inside, the Friar is shocked to see that both Paris and Romeo lay dead. Just then, Juliet awakens from her sleep and, seeing the Friar, asks where Romeo is. Friar Laurence urges Juliet to leave the tomb immediately, declaring that fate has destroyed their plan. Explaining that both Romeo and Paris are dead, the Friar urges Juliet to quickly come with him and promises to place her in a nunnery. Juliet refuses to leave, and the Friar, aware that the watch is approaching, flees the scene.

Alone, Juliet sees the cup of poison Romeo used and remarks that it was rude of him not to leave any for her. She kisses him in the hope that his lips contain a trace of poison and notes that they are still warm. Hearing Paris’s servant approaching with the watchmen, Juliet grabs a knife and stabs herself. Seeing the blood around the entrance to the tomb, the chief watchman orders his men to search the area and arrest whomever they find. Surveying the three dead bodies before him, the chief watchmen orders that the Prince, the Capulets, and the Montagues all be woken. One of the watchmen returns with Balthasar, and another comes back with Friar Laurence, who is weeping. The Prince and the Capulets appear.

Lady Capulet says that people are calling out Romeo and Juliet’s names in the streets and running toward the tomb. The chief watchman explains that Romeo and Paris now lie dead and that the state of Juliet’s body suggests that she has only recently died. The Prince demands to know how these deaths occurred just as Lord Montague arrives. Lord Montague tells the Prince that Lady Montague died earlier in the night from distress over Romeo’s banishment. The...

(The entire section is 1,920 words.)